Surviving the Storm: Get Your Mindset Right


The NAR settlement has brought widespread uncertainty about how agents will operate under the new rules. Will there be a few changes for the sake of transparency, and otherwise it will be business as usual? Or will the settlement upend the current model of working with buyers and sellers?

The truth is, we won’t be able to answer these questions for another few months. Now is the time to wait out the storm. But will you cower in fear as the dust settles, or will you use this time to prepare yourself as Gary Keller suggests you do?

Gary writes in SHIFT that when a market shifts, there are actually two shifts you must make—a mental shift and an action shift. Right now, as the proposed changes wait in limbo, we’ve been afforded the luxury of time. Make the most of this opportunity to get your mindset right. Then this summer, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

SHIFT Tactic #1: Get Real, Get Right — Mindset and Action

“To survive a shift you must first make the mental shift to run towards what you most want and avoid the temptation of running away from what you most fear.” – SHIFT, p. 24.

Having a good outlook is easy when things are easy. It’s when the going gets tough that our mindset is really tested, and only those who are prepared to make mental shifts will emerge on top. As a rule of thumb, most people in a shift fall into three mindsets:

  • Pessimistic: Those that give into their fear, predict the worst, and are unnecessarily negative.
  • Optimistic: Those who are hopeful, don’t think they’ll fail, and are unrealistically positive.
  • Realistic: Those who respond to the fact that failure is a possibility, prepare for the worst, but still choose to strive for the best.

Right now, headlines are raising the panic flag. It’s only natural. They fall into the pessimistic camp. “When a shift occurs, confusion follows,” Gary writes. “What to think and what to do becomes fuzzy because what once worked is no longer working and you may not know why. Don’t let yourself panic. Keep fear at bay.”

Staving off fear doesn’t mean be oblivious instead. Those who are overly optimistic. While they may do well in a great economy, they won’t survive when faced with a shift. Hoping for a sunnier day won’t prompt them into action. Meanwhile, being overcome with pessimism can be just as dangerous. You’ll struggle to identify opportunities for your business. You’ll be too focused on what isn’t possible.

You need to hold out hope to keep moving forward. But you also need to heed close attention to the signs you see with your own eyes. Instead of buying into mass panic, watch what’s happening in your community, and with the people in your community.

Taking a hope for the best and planning for the worst mentality of a realist is the key mindset for your business, regardless of the economy. Because, realistically, you can’t control external forces; you can only control how you respond. And your response should be comprised of thoughtful consideration, careful planning, and decisive action.

Warren Buffet, perhaps the king of surviving (and thriving) during major shifts, has several key pieces of advice you can keep in mind:

  1. Keep a cool head: “The sillier the market’s behavior, the greater the opportunity for the businesslike investor.”
  2. The future isn’t clear: “Uncertainty actually is the friend of the buyer of long-term values.”
  3. Zig when others zag: "I will tell you the secret to getting rich on Wall Street. You try to be greedy when others are fearful. And you try to be fearful when others are greedy." 

Get Back to Basics

At the end of the day, the NAR settlement doesn’t change a fundamental part of life: people need to buy and sell houses. Real estate professionals have skills that can help them. Think about how you can better make your value clear so that you can market those skills.

Then, go back to focusing on the next right action. For most of us, there are only two critical actions we need to set as our priority: expense management and lead generation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with things, break those two priorities down into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Before you start slashing the budget, make sure you’ve updated your P&L to give you a good reflection of your existing expenses and returns. Instead of going all in on a new lead generation strategy, try texting everyone in your database whose name starts with the letter “A” first. Then, tomorrow, text “B,” then on the next day “C,” and so on.

The basics are the basics for a reason: they’re the fundamentals on which every strong business is built. Double down on your business fundamentals. Study the economic market. Keep track of and understand your numbers. Prioritize a lean budget and revenue generation, and be realistic in your approach to shifting markets. And, remember, the good habits you put in place during a shift are the same good habits to carry into a more prosperous market when it shifts back.

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